Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Kate Niehaus

Kate Niehaus

Meet Dr. Kate Niehaus who is a graduate of the CEHD's Department of Counseling and Human Development Ph.D. program in Educational Psychology, Measurement, and Evaluation. She is an Assistant Professor in the Educational Psychology, Research, and Foundations program in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of South Carolina.

Dr. Niehaus has expertise in advanced quantitative methodologies such as structural equation modeling and hierarchical linear modeling. Her first line of research is focused on the academic achievement, self-perceptions, and social-emotional well-being of English Language Learners and Latino students. She is a recipient of the American Psychological Association Division 15 Paul R. Pintrich Outstanding Dissertation Award.

"My time as a graduate student in the College of Education and Human Development prepared me extremely well for a successful career in academia. I interviewed at several research-intensive universities and ultimately accepted a tenure-track position as an assistant professor of educational psychology and research at the University of South Carolina. In both my teaching and research responsibilities as a new assistant professor, I felt well prepared and confident in my abilities due to all of the training and experience that I received throughout my doctoral program, particularly the excellent mentoring that I received from my advisors."

Dr. Niehaus believes that her research has impacted the field in significant ways by drawing increased attention to the social and emotional well-being of children who are English Language Learners and how that well-being may contribute to achievement outcomes for this growing population of students in U.S. schools.

"If I could offer advice to current students who are just beginning their academic careers, I would emphasize the importance of seeking experiences and opportunities outside of your coursework while in your graduate program. You can't just go to class and go home!"

Dr. Niehaus stated that there were three experiences that taught her the most and provided the best preparation for her future job. These three experiences were 1) participating in a research team; 2) working as a graduate teaching assistant; and 3) doing an internship with the local school district.

"Participating in a research team allowed me to work closely with my professors and fellow students on current research projects and learn the entire research process from planning to publishing a study. This even allowed me to have a couple of first-author publications under my belt before graduating, which was highly important for obtaining the job that I wanted. Working as a graduate teaching assistant allowed me to teach undergraduate- and graduate-level courses independently. While this was a significant challenge at the time as I had never taught before, I learned a tremendous amount about effective teaching practices (and certainly learned from my many mistakes as a beginner!). Working an internship with the local school district helped me to see how all of the information I was learning in my doctoral studies was actually being used in the real world outside of academia. Seeing how theory translated into practice was highly valuable for me in my own research, because it helped me understand the importance of drawing relevant applications that teachers, parents, and practitioners can actually use."